Jamaican Culture and Society Essay

2959 Words 12 Pages
Jamaican Culture and Society

I. Introduction- Retracing the Remnants of Colonialism:

When discussing and analyzing contemporary Caribbean culture one must not fail to acknowledge the dreadful legacies of colonialism and imperialism. Contemporary Caribbean society, politics, and economics thinly veil the ramifications of a colonial and hegemonic past. Due to the remnants of colonial institutions such as slavery and the plantation system, the Caribbean has experienced a range of negative societal effects, namely the consolidation of a unifying cultural identity. The demise of colonialism in the Caribbean did not mark the end of social stratification based on racial and ethnic divisions. The prevailing racial distinctions and
…show more content…
This social caste system evolved as a product of the "historical antecedents of slavery, the plantation system, and colonialism" (Nettleford, 28). The practice of social stratification evident in this early Jamaican society was essentially based on race distinctions. The essence of slavery and the plantation system rendered "whitedom" as the civilized faction of society and "blackdom" the primitive faction of society. Franklin Knight, in his discourse on "the genesis of a fragmented nationalism" in the Caribbean, renders the image of a social triangle in order to demonstrate the utility of such a social caste system that is derived from slavery and the plantation system. This social triangle, which is divided into three segments, suggests that the white settlers of European descent made up the smallest percentage of the population in Jamaica, yet they held the highest social, political, and economic status of all inhabitants. The middle tier of this triangle, and consequently the second largest faction in society, represents the free "coloured" members of society who were the offspring of widespread African and European miscegenation. The free colored population essentially "formed a natural middle class" with little, if any, sense of social or political efficacy. The pariahs of this triangular caste system, who were void of any sense of political, social, or economic autonomy, were
Open Document